Ask HN: How to motivate someone who has lost perspective?

30 points | by _u 9 days ago

6 comments

  • contingencies 9 days ago
    There are perhaps three paradigms of motivation.

    Internal motivation.

    External motivation by application of force ("the stick").

    External motivation by application of reward ("the carrot").

    The most powerful motivation is internal, generally this is curiosity or mission-driven behavior for which the subject already has a mental or cultural configuration. To a certain extent, at the individual level if you need external motivation you have 'already lost' in that you will rarely be able to compete with internally motivated people in specialist endeavors.

    Therefore, the best method may be to help rediscover curiosity and interest through play.

    • Nice job on the tech, that's really great.

      This problem as described sounds to me a lot like a subjective lack of energy toward the tools and methods one might use to understand themselves or the world around them. I hope that's similar to what you're getting at with the term "loss of perspective".

      A quick way to regain energy-footing is to realign with the problems in one's own life. Start from the subjective. Exposing oneself to the rush of fear as one describes what they're currently up against in life. The product ought to be a list.

      Then: What tools does one need to take on those problems? What technologies, systems, algorithms, or research may help? Can the tools help define the problem, measure it, or publish about it?

      At this point the product ought to look like a list of optional actions, some of which will naturally seem more interesting than others, so some ranking is done.

      From here there is an opportunity to tap into the potential energy and dive into something. However in the early stages the risk is in lack of diversification. It will be important for the individual to return to the listing activities later and provide themselves with new energy-building directions and opportunities. Otherwise the same problem can result again without an important meta-lesson learned.

      Just an idea for starters, in case it helps. Good luck and way to go.

      • jazzyjackson 9 days ago
        not the OP but want to thank you for the advice. i’ve been dragging my feet unable to make/stick to a list of my wants/desires/5-year ideations, I think I’ll try make a list with your framing of problem solving instead.
      • rramadass 9 days ago
        Two suggested readings:

        * Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward Deci.

        * The Energy of Life: The Science of What Makes Our Minds and Bodies Work by Guy Brown.

        • RonaldOlzheim 7 days ago
          ´I have been thinking how I can help this kind man to regain his perspective in informatics but nothing suitable has crossed my mind so far.´

          Might ask him where his heart lays, try to find someone who truly needs his help and boost your internal motivation.

          In the end, the mind is just the operating system of what the heart truly wants to achieve. soul searching is not outside, it is insight you just need to get ´that´ insight.

          also try philosophy with a focus on stoicism, might give some insights you wished you had before.

          • joshxyz 8 days ago
            Hmmm maybe there's not a problem for you to solve at all. There might be personal reasons on why he lost it, and maybe listening on why and what other things he focus now on might be a more insightful and engaging conversation.
            • poetically 9 days ago
              He should take a few community college classes. They're very cheap and by interacting with people he will regain some perspective on what is considered modern technology and informatics.